Sunday, July 31, 2022

Bucking tractors and little bears

 I spent the lion's share of today weeding the garden. I will run the tiller through it  tomorrow. Zucchini, peas, jalapenos so far. Beans, corn, squashes,  pumpkin, and peppers, onions  coming along. I have got loads of tomatoes, five different varieties, all doing well. That's a happy thing.

A couple days ago, Tim got the tractor stuck brush hogging. It is not the first time. He has a habit of trying to mow just a little bit further than he should. He sunk it deep into the mud. With the brush hog. 

Don't ask me why. I have no idea. 

Gave him something to do while I worked in the garden. He had something more to occupy him when his new tractor refused to start. He planned to use that to pull out the stuck tractor.

I just stayed in the garden. A fellow down the road stopped in offer suggestions, which was very nice. A buried tractor attracts attention here for sure. Tim got quite a bit of feedback from more than one person on the topic before it was all said and done along with an offer to tow.

In the end, he unhitched the brush hog and pulled it free. He unbolted the fly wheel from the latest tractor, made a small adjustment, and it started right up. He drove that down, keeping it on solid ground and waded out to hook it to the stuck tractor.

I waded out too, and was given a brief block of instruction which amounted to 'keep it in first and lift off the clutch. If the front wheels pop off the ground, engage the clutch and they will drop back down. Repeat as necessary' and between his pulling and and my tractor hopping, it should work free. Oh...and 'keep the rear tire off that log or it might flip.'

I have had fun before, but this did not sound anything like it. I was sick to my stomach the first time that those wheels came up, but after a few times, it did lurch free. I steered past the log and did not flip it. I was glad to drive it into its regular parking spot. 

Tim was jubilant. He thinks it means I am now a tractor driver. 

He's wrong.

We drove into town to get a few groceries and three little bear cubs crossed the road in front of the car. The final one stopped and stood up on his hind legs to study us curiously before he dropped back onto all fours and scooting into the underbrush with the rest of his family.

It was a quiet supper, followed a quick clean up. I think we earned our quiet night in front of a movie with our respective adult beverages. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Time is flying.

William got up this morning. We had a little reminder talk. 'Eat your breakfast, and eat enough to hold you until lunch time, because the there will be nothing to eat until lunch.' 

So. He ate a good breakfast, a bowl of cereal and fruit. 

A couple weeks back, I went to GoodWill and picked up a half dozen pair of shorts for him, and as many matching shirts. Middle school is a time when brand names become important. I was able to find the 'good stuff'. I brought them home, tossed them in the wash. Today, he put on a pair of And1 shorts he hadn't worn yet, and thrust his hands in the pockets. He pulled something out and made a strange yelp. Someone had left a $10 bill in the pocket. 

That started the day off quite cheerfully, to be sure. 

We wanted to get up to the retirement property early before it got hellish hot. We skipped the showers, because I was going to be working in the garden. Tim was going to be brush hogging. William was going to help me. Much to my surprise, he did so quite cheerfully. He had two jobs: helping with the weeding and dropping Japanese beetles into a cup of gasoline. He did both things with gusto.

While we worked, we talked about changes, and how sometimes, a person might feel moody and angry and not quite sure why. We talked about ways to handle that. We talked about the need to go off alone sometimes to give yourself time to settle down. I felt like it was a productive discussion. 

My garden is looking so much better, and the plan is to go back up and stay over night Saturday night, through Tuesday night. If I get up and put four hours in my garden for those three days, I will have tamed the mighty weed patch. 

We left at noon to head off home for lunch. William ate. And ate. He ate more than Tim. There were no snacks this afternoon. We walked. He went to the playground. No meltdowns today. I promised him that I was going to sing this to him every time he fell apart. We serenaded him in the truck and he laughed like crazy.. 

I made the perfect baking power biscuits today. I learned how to make them flakey. I've always used softened butter. This recipe called for cold butter. I learned some neat tricks, and was happy at my results. Tim was too. 

After supper, I made up a dish of potatoes and creamed chicken in gravy along with a couple of those biscuits still warm from the oven and took them down to Jim, our newest tenant. He seems to be adapting quite well to life in town. His deck has been a wonderful comfort to him. He has plenty of wildlife to take pictures of, and he sees the bald eagle regularly. While we were leaning on his railing, watching the river roll by, two Amish came wading up the river fishing. They waved to Jim and he waved back. He mentioned that he saw them a few days back and they visited, them from the water, and him on his deck. 

He also mentioned that he wanted stairs to go down the embankment to the river so that he could do some fishing. He was going to hire a guy. "Jim," I said. "Let me explain to you about landlords..." We'll build him a flight of stairs. 

I'm so glad to see him content. 

This is liable to be a busy week for me. I'm headed back out to my son's house on Wednesday and will stay until the baby is born. 

Such a happy time. 

Thursday, July 28, 2022


 William used to be a picky eater. He got better. Now he's winged right back around to the old behavior. After a five and a half hour drive, I was tired. His mother and Don brought a pizza over for supper. 

Much appreciated. 

Well, except for William. He doesn't like sausage on his pizza. "Pick it off," his mother told him. 

He ate one slice of pizza. I knew where we were headed. Two hours after supper, he was, predictably, hungry. 

I said, "We've already had supper, William. I'm not cooking a second supper for you. You can find yourself something to eat."

He wanted microwave Mac and Cheese. 

"We don't have any," I said. 

"Can't you go out and get some?" 

"No William. If you are hungry, you can make yourself a sandwich. We've got peanut butter and jelly..." 

"I'm not in the mood for something sweet."

"We've got roast beef. We've got three different kinds of cheese..." 

"How old is that roast beef?" he asked suspiciously. 

"William. grandpa got it out of the freezer. It's got an old date, but it perfectly fine."

He began to get dramatic and weepy. 

I began to get mad. 

"There's eggs. There's toast. There's tuna fish..." 

"You only have Miracle Whip. I don't like Miracle Whip." A tear rolled down his face. 

For God's sake! He's 11 years old. He was being stubborn. I began to get stubborn too. "William, supper is done. If you are hungry now, you need to figure out what you want to eat, because I am not jumping up to make a second supper. You can make whatever sandwich you want, You can have a bowl of cereal, but the flat fact of the matter is that if you don't eat what is put in front of you at supper, you don't get a second supper prepared for you."

"I want microwave Mac and Cheese. I'm going to ask Grandpa to get it for me." 

I was tired, and I was running short on tolerance for nonsense. "No one is running out to get you microwaveable Mac and Cheese. Totally not kidding. For a kid who is starving to death you are pretty damned picky. I guess you're going to go to bed hungry tonight, and you've got no one to blame but your own stubborn self."

He flung himself to the stairs and cried for quite some time. 

In the end, he went to the kitchen and fixed himself something to eat. He's now sitting in the livingroom watching television with his grandfather. The storm has passed. 

I keep telling myself that he was probably tired too, but two meltdowns in two days is getting pretty tiresome.

WTH is this??????? 

Late edit: reading about adolescent boys, I've answered my own questions. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Back home.

 Last Friday, William and I got up and headed east. A birthday party for a four year old was slated on Sunday. It is early because the new baby is due in early August, which makes it difficult for a mama to plan a birthday party while recovering and taking care of a new baby as well.

William also got some cousin time, which is not common, since both of my grandchildren live on opposite sides of the state. Friday night, we took in a carnival and fireworks. Saturday, we went to the pool. Sunday was a party. Monday was a lazy day, a trip to the playground, a walk on the health trail. Tuesday was a chance for mom and dad to have a date night, one last date night before the new baby. William and Iris and I had a date night of our own, snuggled together on a bed to watch Tangled on William's portable DVD player, with the blinds down and the curtains drawn so that our glow in the dark bracelets glowed a bit more dramatically. 

They both sprawled lazily and their laughter seemed quite nearly choreographed. The exact same things struck them as hysterically funny. 

I was unbelievably happy to be sitting between the two of them, listening to that laughter. Could there be a moment any more perfect than that? 

That's it really. I'm beat. Why does the trip home always seem to take longer? 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Unsolved Mystery

 Tim and I stopped to talk with a neighbor. She introduced me to Henry, who lives on her front porch. "He's a feral, but he doesn't know it," she said. I told her about my little feral, Mangey. 

She listened and said, "We have a little black cat on this end too. He's got some eye troubles." She also told me that there is a squadron of people who tend to the ferals on that end of the street. She said that some of the cats at that end of the street have mange, too. Someone has been treating them with Ivermectin, as well. 

I thought that was pretty cool, that there are a bunch of quiet people trying to make things better for these poor creatures. I also worried...what if the black cat with the eye problem was MY feral? What if it was Mangey? 

Anyways, Tim and I had some running to do. We went to look at a property first thing this morning and did a little running around in the name of due diligence This will certainly be one that requires some thinking. 

We got home and I unpacked some groceries. Tim was heading out to test drive the dump truck and its new transfer case. He stuck his head back in the door and hollered for me. "Your little cat is here!"

What? WHAT???? He was living a pampered life indoors, or so the neighbor had told Tim. 


Meet Mangey. 

Mangey was sitting in the driveway as if he hadn't been gone for nearly 3 weeks. He meowed when he saw me. Tim said, "I put some catfood out, but he's not hungry." (But he wouldn't be, if he was someone else's cat though, would he?) I went out to talk to him about his new home, but he rubbed against my legs and then trotted to the door and waited expectantly. 

The little stinker. He knows who he's dealing with.

I went in and got the good stuff for him and set it on the stone wall where he likes to dine, and he tore into it as if he had decided he was hungry after all. 

So...whatever black cat is at the neighbor's house isn't my feral cat...unless he has made it clear to her that he's just not cut out for a life of leisure. I do not know. But also...whatever black cat is down the street with his eye problem isn't my feral cat either, which made me feel heaps better. 

In summation, this mystery is not solved after all. 

Walking back to the house, I noticed he'd brought his friend. 

Some cats are happy with their Tender Centers. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Well, THIS is good news!

 Mr. M was taken in by a neighbor. I haven't seen him for some time...she's making him an inside cat. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022


There you have it in all its glory...I present to you, a soup ladle, Jefferson pattern, rolled out in 1913 by Simeon L. and George H. Rogers. 

Isn't it amazing? 

Not so much? Really? I guess there is the slightest chance that I'm a weirdo. I've heard that before, and I assure you, I will hear it again. 

Quite honestly, though, I thought everyone did that...find some treasure that sends you off down a google rabbit hole where one thing leads to another, and then another...I guess I just am a curious person. If curiosity kills the cat, well, then thank heavens I'm not a cat. I'd certainly have used up all my nine lives. 

Speaking of cats, I went to bed last night and just as I was dozing off, I heard a cat meow. I  jumped out of bed right away, because I have not seen Mr. M. in a couple of weeks and I am concerned for him. I padded down the hall, into the kitchen and out the back door. The motion detector light came on and I stood there in my nightgown, saying "here kitty, kitty, kitty...." in a low voice.

Alas. No kitty here kitty, kittied. 

You know, feral cats keep their own schedules and answer to no one but themselves. The idea that he just moved on to the next patsy around the corner is far more comforting than pondering all the horrible things that could befall a wild cat. 

I finally gave up and padded back inside. 

It was then that I made the egregious mistake. I took my wide awake self to the computer for a few minutes (yeah, right..)

I googled around like I do and then there was a giant sucking sound... I was sucked into the swirling black void of facebook.

I looked around at the 'Helping Hands' site, and noticed one ad asking for recommendations for a surveyer. There were a number of comments to it, and I glanced down through them. Someone asked her why she needed one in such a hurry. She said that her neighbor was claiming that the property line went right down the middle of her house and she was sick of it. 

That would be alarming. What the hell kind of person would try to claim half your house? 

I looked at her name, and quite slowly, it occurred to me. She lives next door to one of our properties. We were the unreasonable neighbors she was referring to. I read a few more of her comments and man, we are some real bastards. 

So I replied to the most unreasonable comment. I said, "Ricki, this is simply not true. We have never claimed we own half your house. We were not aware there were any issues with the property line. It's plainly marked in the front yard and in the back. We've never even spoken to you about the boundaries, let alone tried to claim we owned half your house. If you've got a problem, the reasonable thing to do would be to talk to the people involved, not spread lies on facebook." 

She shot back immediately, "Those pipes in the back yard that are spray painted are drain pipes, not markers!" 

Who ever heard of drain pipes being pounded vertically into the ground?

I said, "They have been the boundary markers since we bought the house in 2008. Again, we've never exchanged one word with you about boundaries, let alone claimed we own half your house."

She shot back some sort of accusatory thing, but I saw that there was no point talking with her. Reasonable people don't tell whopper lies in a public forum. 

I looked up the plot maps on line, and brought up her address and our address. I wrote the lot number down to look up at the court house, and I used the GIS mapping to lay out the lot boundaries and measurements. 

My hackles were raised, by golly. 

By the time that I finished my writing and studying it was 3:30 in the morning. I went back to see what else she had added, but she had removed her post, which was good, but really, I went to bed trying to figure out what exactly it was that got her shorts in a bunch. We rarely see her and we have probably had one actual conversation with her, like a couple years ago. 

When the drill sergeant woke me up this morning, he showed no mercy. I got up and I got moving. Four hours of work in the garden settled me right down. When bedtime comes tonight, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to sleep. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Ladles, Trucks, and Birthdays!

 Feeling as if I've managed to lick this stomach issue. It may kick up again. I don't know, but I think it is a time to really pay attention to what I'm eating. 

Today was blessed rain. It rained for most of the day, on and off, and it was welcome indeed, even though we went to the garden thinking the rain was supposed to end in early afternoon. Unfortunately it did not end until late afternoon, so we came back home accomplishing very little there. 

We stopped at a yard sale and it sounds like a very silly thing, but I fell in love with a soup ladle. It was a heavy, designed for use at the table, not for the pot. Elegantly simple. Today we sat down with it and discovered that it was not silver, but silver plate, over bronze, which is what makes it so heavy. Modern silver plate is over stainless steel, which is much lighter weight. 

The maker was Simeon L. and George H. Rogers, and it was the Jefferson pattern which dated it at 1913. Me, being the daydreamer that I am, immediately began imagining all the hands that have handled that humble ladle. It is now one of my favorite things, totally worth the quarter that I spent on it. We learned a lot about silver though. 

After supper, I climbed under the dump truck to help Tim slide in the new transfer case. That was a grand struggle. The transfer case is heavy, and it has to be exactly right to fit into the transmission. Between the two of us, we got it in place, and bolted together. The worst part of that job is done, thank heavens. 

I've begun getting ready for the trip east. William and I will be spending six days with my son and daughter in law. There is an early fourth birthday party, since Brittani is due to give birth the week before my granddaughter's actual birthday. William and I will return home on Wednesday, but the following Wednesday, I'll head back out, staying put until the newest grandaughter arrives. 

I'm so very excited...and now you understand why I don't have time for any stomach ailments. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Weekend, done and dusted

 I went into this weekend with great plans. Plans actually completed? Zero. 

I had an awful stomach problem last Wednesday and Thursday. It went away. I made my great plans. It came back. It went away. It came back. I began to notice that I was fine until I ate. I began reading, like I do, and came to the conclusion that I was having a gallbladder problem. I was miserable, but went along with the diet to see what would happen. Sure enough. Things started easing back. I am also drinking a lot of ginger tea, since ginger is good for relieving inflammation. 

I am much better today, which leads me to think I am on the right track. 

I expect that at some point, I will probably have to see a doctor, but I'm hoping to delay things for just a while. My newest granddaughter will be here in less than three weeks, and I'll be waiting at home with big sister anxious to meet her. 

So, I spent most of the weekend curled up with a book I picked up some time back. It is an Aldine Reader, Book Seven  (which was for seventh graders, ironically enough). It was printed in 1921. The readings are quite advanced to what we see in seventh grade nowaday. Complex themes about war, and dying for God and country, patriotism, duty, honor, written by Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Daniel Webster Henry Ward Beecher. Alfred Lord Tennyson and the like.

I saw that they had the story of Rip VanWinkel in it, and I was curious. William reads steadily, but he's reading James Patterson's middleschool series and getting a huge kick out of them. Quite a different level. He's also younger, having just finished 5th grade. I was kind of curious and so I began to read the story out loud to him. It is a 200 year old story, and some of the words are quite old fashioned. There were several stops to define words (shiftless, flagon, tory, draught, etc.) but he became quite engrossed with the the tale. He loved the part about the little men bringing Henry Hudson back every 20 years so that he might view his town and the river named for him. It was very cool to see him take such an interest. 

I spent this afternoon curled up listening to the thunder moving through the area. We need the rain, so I really cannot complain about that. 

I also watched Shadowlands. What a sweet movie. I spent a lot of time reading about Douglas Gresham when it was done. Thanks for the tip, Northsider!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Truck

 Tim has a terrible habit of accumulating things with motors. A few years back he bought a 1982 squarebody GMC truck, and he loved that truck until ~squirrel!~ he found a 1982 Chevy squarebody truck that he liked even better. 

He's been talking about selling the other truck for some time now, but what I noticed is that while he talked about it, he didn't. Like I said, it was just a little thing that I noticed.

Well, today, he came in and announed that he needed me to take pictures of his truck and put it on marketplace for him. 

So I did. I did not put our phone number on it, figuring that if anyone messaged, I could provide our phone number privately. 

And, I am not kidding...I published that advertisement, and within minutes my smart phone chat app was pinging like an old fashioned pinball machine. I began private messaging our phone number and the phone began ringing off the receiver. (Yes. We are dinosaurs. We have a land line.) 

After providing our phone number about 30 times, I began to get nervous. I began to message people that it was very likely sold, but that we'd get back to them tomorrow afternoon and let them know for sure. While I was responding to one message right after another, Tim walked in with a wild eyed look. "Message this guy with our address," he said. The phone rang again, and he left the room with the phone to answer more questions. 

So I messaged the guy with our address and let him know that we were fielding a lot of calls and to call before he came so that he didn't waste a trip. "I'm on my way," came the immediate response. "It's a 45 minute drive and I've got the cash in my hand." 

I returned to answering the messages as they came in. 'The truck is probably sold, but we will let you know for sure by tomorrow at noon,' I typed, over and over and over again.  The messages were coming in quick enough that I resorted to copying and pasting the message, just trying to keep up with them.

Tim walked back in the office. "Mark the truck as pending," he said, 

I stared at him. "We can't do that!" and he wanted to know why. I said, "We've got a fellow half way into a 45 minute drive. We can't just sell it out from under him." Tim said, "Well. I promised it to someone else." And he got that stubborn look. 

"You told me to send this man our address, and you did that about 20 minutes ago. He gets first crack because he's driving here right now."

He decided there was no sense in bickering about it until we saw whether the kid actually showed up and whether or not he actually wanted it. 

Meanwhile, he went back to the phone calls, one right after another. I went back to answering the messages, one right after another. 

Long story short, the kid got here and he took the truck. All that was left was to call the other guy who thought he was buying it at 11 am tomorrow. 

In case you did not know this little factoid, men take potential purchases of 1982 trucks very seriously indeed. He was pretty upset. 

By the way, the truck was sold within one hour and 15 minutes of placing the ad.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Bike

 This morning, we got up and went for our walk. I've set up a pedometer to track the distance and steps. It will be nice to track our progress. 

On the way back home, a garbage truck was backed up and loading a bunch of things into the truck. Furniture, wall decor, a bird feeder. It was a big pile of stuff and I really couldn't tell you all the stuff that was in that pile, but it was a lot of things. 

Tim and I both stopped in our tracks when they lifted an upside down diningroom table. Beneath it was a girls bike, with a snazzy pink paint job and pink rims. It looked in very good shape. 

"That's a shame," I said. "There are plenty of kids in this town without a bike." 

The garbage man said, "Take it, then. Take it and find someone to give it to. If you know anybody that can use any of this stuff, take it." We were not hauling it all home. We just couldn't, but the bike bothered me. Most of the children in our community live in poverty. I looked at Tim. He'd be the one checking it over, and he had quite a list of things for the day. 

He said, "We're taking that bike." 

He rode it the rest of the way home. It was funny to see him riding a 20 inch pink bike, but by the time, we got home, he said, "There's nothing wrong with this bike. It needs air in the tires and the chain needs some lube." He quickly went to work on it and gave it a bit of a clean up while he was at it. I took a picture and posted it on facebook. It was snapped up quickly. 

I'm glad that we saved it from the dump. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022


 I have got flower gardens here at the house.  A couple big ones in the back yard and one in the front. They are overgrown and sad looking. The problem is that they were just too much to keep up with while working a full time job which stretched into some pretty long hours, plus having the inside house things to do, plus working on renovations. I'd get a good start on things, but invariably there was something that came up and in very short order, the work I did was swallowed up by weeds again. 

Since the finished renovation, I've made up my mind to start working at them again. A bit at a time. Slow and steady. 

This also involves buying plants. 

We have a series of houses and what I have always done is go to Lowes and look at their poor half dead plants. I buy them for a fraction of the price, and bring them home. I plant them with the thought that they will either grow or they won't. A surprising number of them do grow. 

Sunday, I brought home four sad plants. Today, I got them planted, two yellow columbine and salvia. along with splitting some hostas and ferns that had become monstrous. A hydrangea bush has grown up in an awkward place, and needed dug out and replanted. I've got some lilacs to go at the back of the lot by the fence that seperates our lot from the neighbor behind us.  Weeding. There's always weeding. 

I work by myself and it is a pleasant way to spend an evening. A small gray feral cat comes to sit and watch. He's new. He won't come near. He's every bit as wary as Mr. M was in the beginning. I have not seen my old friend for over a week now, but I have the good catfood waiting, just in case. 

I get up and brush my pants off, speaking to the new cat. "Are you hungry?" I ask, as I head to the house. "Come on, then." He follows me, padding to the edge of the driveway, silently watching me as I go inside to return with a cup of cat food to fill his dish. He waits until I go inside to approach my offering.

The kids across the street? The neighborhood refers to them as 'the ferals'. Something has happened there. They don't seem to be around during the day. Perhaps one of the adults realized that an 11 year old boy cannot handle two preschoolers without help.  I can only hope that they are in the care of someone who loves them. Maybe a grandma. 

William is at his own house for a couple of days this week. It is just Tim and I, and that feels comfortable too, not that either of us mind having William around. He's an easy child most of the time, and he's really begun to show quite a streak of independence. Tim bought him a bike for here and he is in his glory. He rode over to the library to redeem his 14 tickets for reading. A squid hat, sunglasses, a water bottle. 

I like it when life's like this, quiet, flowing on an even keel. 

Tomorrow, after our walk, after my shower,  I will go to Lowes to buy another half dozen plants. It usually winds up costing me no more than $20. I like looking through the poor sad plants, reading the tag to find out which ones love the shade. We've got two massive maple trees in the back yard filtering the sunlight, creating flickering pale green light to punctuate the shade,. That's nice. It prevents it from being a gloomy space.

I'll study those plants carefully, taking my time to read about them.  I know what I am looking for:  the ones that show new growth beneath the dead stuff. resiliant plants, the ones that do best away from the bright light. 

Some things just need to be in the right place and left to return to life.


 I've begun to wake up in the night with aching hips. I can't get comfortable to save my soul. I wind up spending a lot of time tossing and turning. 

Now, I'm a person who will avoid doctors as long as humanly possible. My philosophy is that when you start seeing a doctor regularly, they are invariably going to find something wrong with you. So, I was reading up on my situation. I was guessing some amount of arthritis, and I know from an physical therapy point of view, the recommendation is to keep as active as possible to keep the joint well lubricated with the synovial fluid our own body creates. 

It has been hot here, and so walking at the beginning of the day is the sensible thing to do. The problem is that when you spend an hour or two wide awake in the middle of the night, it makes it tougher to argue yourself out of bed in the morning when it is coolest. A real conundrum. 

Of course, the less active you are, the more pounds tend to creep on. Another problem. My mother was morbidly obese and her activity so curtailed at the end of her life, that weight gain always raises the specter of me heading down the same path, a depressing thought. 

I was talking about it to Tim. I said that I really needed to have someone to hold me accountable, a reason to force myself out of bed in the morning, no matter how tired I am. "Want to walk with me in the morning?" 

He agreed. 

I'm beginning to think that the man may have been a drill sergeant in a previous life. 

Monday, July 11, 2022


 Actual conversation from a marriage: 

"I'm going to walk to the Goodwill. The walk will be good exercise. It will also guarantee that I won't buy anything that I cannot carry. I won't spend more than $20." 

5 minutes after hitting Goodwill, I called Tim. "Hey. I'm going to need you to pick me up. Drive the truck."

Price $24.99. 

I stood in front of it, trying to talk myself out of it. A woman stopped and studied it as well. She opened the glass doors. 

I took a deep breath and said to myself, "Self, this is not a tractor, for pete's sake. Get in line."

There was a pretty long line, and I waited for some time. I watched people stopping to examine that clock. As I waited, it struck me (see what I did there?) 'Were the hands moving?'  I asked an employee, "Does that clock work, do you know?" She said that she didn't know, that it came in about an hour before they closed the previous night. She also said, "There's been a lot of interest in it. We've had seven people asking about it today. Most of them needed to see if they could arrange transportation for it." I took a deep breath and left the line. The last darn thing that I needed to drag home was another clock that had to be fixed. I studied hands on the clock. They were moving. 

At that point, an elderly man stopped. He stepped in front of me and began examining the clock. His wife was looking at clothing. He said, matter of factly, "We're getting this clock," to her. She told him that she wanted to look around a little more. 

That did it for me. I went back to stand in line, which was even longer than it had been before. The elderly man continued to study the clock, hovering near it in a proprietory way, keeping an eye on his wife. Then he saw me in line. Quick as a wink, he darted to the counter and said, "I'm buying that clock," to the cashier. 

My heart dropped. 

Bless her heart! She scanned the line quickly and saw me standing there. "Did you decide to take the clock?" I swear I could have kissed her! but I said in a very calm voice, "Yes. I did. Thank you." She turned to the man and said, "I'm sorry. It's sold." 

I continued to wait in line. 

The phone rang and the manager came up to answer it for the busy cashiers. "The clock?" she said, and the cashier said, "She's waiting to buy it," gesturing at me. "I'm sorry," the manager said. "The clock is gone." She listened. "Yes," she said. "It did attract quite a bit of attention." 

One of the employees came up with the dolly to help me load it. I removed the pendulum. He wondered if we should remove the weights. I explained that it was a reproduction, that the clock itself was keywound not weight driven, so the weights were decorative, not heavy like a real weight driven clock would be. A couple people stopped to listen. I told the employee that he could just wheel it to the sidewalk, that I'd just wait for my husband and the truck, but I no sooner got the words from my mouth, than our truck pulled up. Perfect timing. 

Do you know that elderly man actually followed us out the door? He stood watching as we loaded it. I had the feeling he wanted to say something, but he did not. 

Late Edit: I got it home and cleaned up and slid into the place it belonged. Much to my surprise, Tim said, "Let's go back to Goodwill and see what else is there." What kind of a woman turns THAT down? Not this one, that's for sure. I did find three smallish things. While I was waiting in line, Tim suddenly let out a loud laugh. "What's so funny?" I asked. He said, "The woman in front of us just told the cashier they'd returned to buy the grandfather clock."

Sunday, July 10, 2022


 Every Sunday morning, I sit down with a cup of coffee and write a letter to Cara and Colin. It is a quiet little ritual that I have really come to enjoy. 

They've made a lot of changes to their home, and it has been fun to watch the garden take shape, new carpets going down, new furniture coming in one piece at a time. There's always something going on there. 

I wondered if I could see the new plantings at the front of their house, so I google mapped their address, and saw the little road that I walked to go downtown and explore the little shops. I wandered up the cul-de-sac that led to their front door. It did not show their changes, but when I glanced at the date I saw that it was March 2022. 

I arrived at their house at the end of February, and stayed for all of March. As silly as it sounds, it tickles me to look at the google map and the pictures of their house, their car parked in the front yard, and mull the idea in my mind that it is quite possible that I was actually inside their house as the picture was taken. 

Friday, July 8, 2022

Still Keeping Score?

 I was a little amazed that I was supposed to get my situation resolved with the lady at Social Security before July 13th. I was told a letter had been sent advising me of this. I had not received it. 

Guess what? It arrived today. Talk about peculiar timing. It was dated the 28th of June. I received it 11 days later. Tim brought the mail in and handed it to me just after I asnwered the phone call from Ms. Austin at the Social Security Office. 

She was pretty irritated at all the information I'd left off of the application, and she began to ask a lot of questions. Was I married? Legally or Common law? How long. What was his SSN number? She said, more than once, "Your application has a lot of missing information. Who filled out this application?" At one point, she said, "You did not even provide your banking information."

There are so many scams going on out there. I was getting very nervous here. I told her that I'd filled out the application myself and that the questions she was asking me now were not asked on the application. She told me that the questions were right at the beginning of the application and that I could not have submitted the application without answering them. (Okay...but I submitted the application...) I also said that I didn't even understand why she needed my banking information.

She snapped, "To send you your checks." 

Me: "what checks?" 

Long pause. 

"Oh. You're only applying for your medicare."

"Right. We're deferring benefits until we are 67." 

"Well, Medicare is automatic." 

I pointed out that it hadn't been automatic, that I'd been waiting since the end of March to get this approved. I made the mistake of asking why the paperwork kicked out. 

She started getting pretty upset. "I'm only human'" she told me. There was a bunch of other stuff, none of it helpful. I quit asking questions. 

"Listen, can we just move forward? I just want this application approved." 

She told me that she was documenting that she had explained things in depth to me. 

Short answer? I have no clue what happened. To be honest, I think they made a mistake, but I didn't want to listen to her 'explaining things' any longer. Her explanations did not explain at all why my application kicked out back in March.

Funny the way it is...

Yesterday, after our adventure with the grumpy 11 year old, and after our encounter with the crabby counter person, we went to the lake to hang out for a while. We went to Barcelona beach because it was close and because it is where you can find lots and lots of beach glass. 

William was washing away his whines in the waves while I looked for flat and rounded stones to do a craft with Iris when next I go. Tim was sitting on the beach staring out at the horizon. It was very sunny and the light was glistening off the water. 

"Look at that," Tim said, pointing far out in the water. I looked. "See that light? I wonder what that is. It's awfully bright, to be able to see it clear back here." 

I watched. "That is strange. It seems a lot brighter that the sunlight reflecting off the water."

We watched it for some time. 

 When we left the beach, we heard that someone had fallen off a fishing boat in the water off Barcelona Beach and never resurfaced. 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Cherry Picking

 Today was the long put off day to go picking cherries. We've been going to do that for the last couple weeks, but there was a tractor. And a run to the reservation, and then it was July 4th...and well. We got around to it today. 

We picked 16 pounds of sweet cherries. William was with us, and I don't know what his dealio was, but he was grumpy and sulky. We tried to speak reasonably to him, but he continued to be a cranky butt. 

After we were done, we went to McDonald's to try to change the tone of the day. It didn't. 

The specials were different, and I had a couple questions about their 'bundles'. (The counter help was not happy about this delay) I placed my order: One coke. One water. One unsweetened iced tea with double lemon. (Flat stare: "We don't have lemon.") Me: "Well, I guess I'll just take the unsweetened iced tea, then." (Flat stare.) Me: I will take the two spicy chicken bundle, three small fries and a cheeseburger. (Flat stare: "$12.83.") I ran my card, thinking "Man, that is one unhappy girl." 

It was a pretty long wait and people were getting ornery, and I was thinking, "This is probably a hard time to be at the register." When my order was set up, there were only two drinks. I did a quick inventory and saw that the iced tea was missing," so I said, "I'm waiting on my iced tea, and she snapped, "We don't have lemon." I said, " said that. I ordered it anyway..." I looked. There were two spicy chickens, but no cheeseburger. I said, "I also need a cheeseburger." She said, "A cheeseburger isn't part of the bundle!" I said, "Right....but we've got three people eating. Two of us got a bundle, and I needed a cheeseburger for my grandson...." 

She was pissed. She printed out the receipt and handed it to me, snapping "This is what you ordered!" 

I had a receipt right in my hand. I said, "Listen, I have my receipt. I can see what I was charged for, but I am ordering for three people. I wanted a cheeseburger and an unsweetened iced tea..." and she snapped, "That's not what you ordered." I said, "Listen. There's been a misunderstanding and..." she said, "If you want more food, you're paying for it!" 

Gobsmacked, I said, "Is that what this is about? This is ridiculous. I need to speak with your manager please." 

She stormed off angrily throwing her hands in the air. 

I waited. The manager came up, and I explained. "I know it is busy. I know it was a misunderstanding,  and I'm not trying to fight, but I ordered for three people." I explained what the order should have been. She reached back, grabbed a cheeseburger and got me an iced tea. I had my card in my hand, but she waved me off. I said, "I wasn't trying to get free food or to start an argument." She said, "I know. But we were getting slammed and when it is busy like that, inexperienced workers get nervous." 

That was diplomatic. 

After we were done eating, we walked down the street to an antique shop and looked around. I was tempted but reminded myself we would be downsizing. Still, it's fun to look. 

We went down to Lake Erie. William finally began shed his mood as he frolicked in the water. 

We watched 3 Amish men strolling the beach with four children. A little girl in a blue dress stared at William up to his neck in the waves. She gave a little wave. He gave a little wave back. We collected stones and beach glass and sat on the rocky beach while we waited for William to wear himself out. 

Tim drove home and we talked in the front seat. I popped a cherry in my mouth. It was so sweet. A nice counterbalance to cranky counter help and the sleeping boy in the back seat.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

For those keeping score:

 In a recent post, I described trying to reach Medicare to discuss why Tim's application had been approved in the matter of weeks, when mine had been in process for over three months. It struck me as so very strange that after being on hold for 45 minutes, the perfectly awful music was irritatingly clear yet as soon as the operator came on, the connection became tinny and vibrate-y and oh-so-far-away sounding. We got through it as best we could (she refused to call me back) and she told me that my application was still in process (which I knew...but the question begged an answer: "Why???? Why was an application that was supposed to take 2-4 weeks to process taking over 3 months?")

She basically blew me off and said that I'd have my card by the first of July. 

I totally did not believe this, but I'd gone as far as I was going to go with this call. I asked if anyone out there cared to place a wager. 

Guess who has been listening to that same shit music for 35 minutes this afternoon? I'll let you know how the connection is when (if?) anyone answers. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022


 Sometimes a question will stop you dead in your tracks. Yesterday, Ellen D.'s stopped me. "What treasures do you search for, Debby." 

I am at a strange place in my life. I've been getting rid of material things. I know that in the next couple years, we will be downsizing.

 I went to a huh-uuuuuuuuuge antique mall, and I bought nothing. I didn't even see anything that truly tempted me. When people ask me what I want for Christmas or my birthday, or whatever, I have to think about it. Sometimes, I can't even come up with anything then. 

I've said it before. I'm pretty lucky. 

But today, I was working in the garden and I was thinking about it. What do I treasure? 

I started compiling a list. Traveling. Seeing new things. Meeting new people. Having old friends. My grandchildren (oh, how I treasure my time with them!) I love a good book. I like reading in bed. I love flannel nightgowns. I like a clean and organized house. (I have to admit that I don't always like making it that way.) I like spending time in my gardens. We are finally going to start working on our backyard flower gardens. We have the time, finally,  I like being able to spend time doing the things that I want to do, instead of focusing on the things that I need to do. I like thunder and lightning storms, the louder the better. I like lightning bugs. I like sitting quietly. I like feeling useful. I love listening to people's stories. I love it when a person feels comfortable to share them. 

Once I started making my list, it got easier and easier. Lilacs. Hydrangeas. Watching birds. Listening to owls hoot at night. One after another, the things came rushing at me. 

By the time I leaned my hoe against the fence, I felt quite fortunate that most everything I value is already part of my life. 

Oops. He did it again.

 On our great jaunt to the reservation last Friday, things happened that I did not tell you about, and the biggest thing was that as we drove home, suddenly my husband's head whipped around like it was on a swivel. 

I get an icky feeling when he ogles like that. I'll never be able to break him of that habit. He's a man. I mean, really, it's not totally his fault, being that the object of his lust was just openly exposed in the front yard of a house for heaven's sake.

 "Quit!" I said, 

He did not listen, and pulled off the road to turn back. 

I sighed. 

He headed back and stopped in the driveway. There she was in all her naked glory. 

Adopting my most reasonable tones, I pointed out that he did not need another tractor. He pointed out that it had a winch on it. It was a pulling tractor. A work horse. 

The old man came out of his house, and the talking commenced. It went on for a good long time. So long that I finally got out of the car to listen. I could tell that Tim was quite serious about this old girl. She is a 1956 International 350, with wheel weights and chains, plus that winch, that had him drooling. It has a 3 point hitch and if he can find a bucket for the front, it will do everything he ever wanted a tractor to do. 

The old man still had a full head of thick black hair despite his lined and weathered brown face. It was impossible to tell how old he was for sure, but I had a feeling that he was quite a bit older than we would guess, since one side his face drooped, indicating that he'd had a stroke, but he was tall and rail thin, and he stood ramroad straight while he answered Tim's questions. 

 I took the two pictures that Tim wanted. I got the owner's name and phone numbers into my phone. "I'll call you Tractor Jeff," He gave me his wife's number and told me to call her Tractor Darlene. We said our goodbyes, and once again, we were on the road. 

I knew that Tim wanted that tractor and I knew that he wanted it bad. He doesn't ever make snap decisions on things though. He came home and read about it for most of the rest of the night. He did price comparisons. He read what other owners had to say about theirs. Based on all of that, it was a good price for a very reliable old work horse. 

I asked him how he would get it home. Our big truck is waiting on a new transfer case at the moment. 

"I don't know," was the answer, but it didn't take long for him to figure out how he was going to do it. My nephew has a trailer we could borrow. My brother in law has a big truck to hook it up to. Since it is a wet week predicted, Dave will not be busy in the hayfield. He's also pretty interested in this 'new' toy. 

So, we called Tractor Jeff back and asked to come take another look at the tractor. Tim had a couple questions. He also wanted ot hear it run and to drive it. 

Tractor Jeff was pleased as punch to see us again. He'd had a lot of people stop, but he said that when they found out it was a 66 year old tractor, everyone lost interest. I laughed. People do not understand that these old tractors are built to run. They have no computers to them at all. Whatever goes wrong can be fixed. The parts are still made. Tim would pick an old tractor any day of the week. (Luckily, he would pick his old wife any day of the week as well). 

Tim drove the tractor away. Tractor Jeff watched William walking back from the car. He'd gone to get  his water. He took a swallow of coffee and said, "I was wondering where you got off to." I said, "He was a bit worried about his pet bears. They're not chained up." Mirth bubbled up in Jeff's dark eyes, but he showed no hint of it on his face. He said, "Well, I've only got the two of them now," in a serious voice. I said, "They haven't eaten a kid in quite a while, have they?" Jeff got a musing look on his face. "Not since the one grandchild, but he always was the slowest one." We all laughed as Tim headed back on the tractor. 

Tomorrow, we'll go back one last time to get it. 

One the way home we stopped and had ice cream on a pirate ship . William had never been before, and it was a nice day to sit on top…

...and look out over the marina. 

...although the heavy clouds made our view very different. 


Monday, July 4, 2022

Can't Watch

The people across the street are an interesting bunch. Three young boys run around naked (or close to it), and three dogs run with them. In the country, it might not seem so strange, but in a town setting, it is very bizarre. 

I fear for the puppies. Inevitably, they are going to get hit by a car. 

I watch the boys. It appears that the mother works days, and the father works nights. During the day, when the father is sleeping, the oldest boy (who just turned 11) is tasked with caring for the two younger boys. Two neighbors and I were discussing this. The woman said, "He's not doing a very good job of it." I said that I wouldn't expect him to, being just a child himself. 

The thing is that there is a playground group that meets right across the river. Since the two younger boys are too young for the program, the older boy cannot go either. It's got to be a pretty boring summer for him. 

Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that Child Protective Service seems unwilling to handle. There's no actual abuse happening that I can see, and they are burdened with cases that do involve those awful circumstances, but I keep thinking that there is no reason that two little boys can't come over and play in our yard for the day. There is no reason that I cannot make them a sandwich at lunchtime. Make certain that they are dressed. 

Everyone is telling me that this is such a bad idea, that I should simply stay out of it.

I'm not sure that I can, though.

 I remember being a single mother, trying to sleep days, with all three kids out of school for the summer. Although my own were much older, (the youngest was 6, the oldest 14), I remember how awful I felt about it. I knew they were bored and left to their own devices too much. 

I felt like a shit parent, but there was no help. My parents had made the decision that I'd made my bed, etc. etc. It struck me as strange thinking. My then husband was in prison. No matter what they thought of me and my choices, there were three grandchildren who were blameless. 

I look at the situation across the street and I find myself thinking back to those desperate days. 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Happy 4th!

 One great thing that happened is that on our jaunt yesterday, we stopped into a Tractor Supply store to check and see if they had any seeds. I was quite happy to see that they had both peas and beans. I'd lost an awful lot of plants (seeds?) from the first planting. I was not sure what critters had wreaked that havoc, but now I could replant. It is anybody's guess whether I will get anything from them, but today, I reseeded all the empty places in the three rows of beans and peas. I worked for two or three hours but it was hot and I'd unwisely skipped breakfast, so I went inside to sit in the cool and have a drink and a bite to eat. 

I listened to some crows making a big to-do in the pine tree by the garden with a sinking feeling. They are very smart birds. They didn't go in the garden, but they seemed to be quite aware that I'd planted some treats for them. 

I thought unkind thoughts. 

I went back down to the garden to give everything another good watering before I left. Two chipmunks watched me from nearby. 

The little stinkers. 

It is a conspiracy, I tell you. The woodland creatures conspire against me.

We came home about five. I just finished making the macaroni salad and potato salad for tomorrow. I baked the short cake for the strawberries. I made a gallon of sour cherry lemonade. Tomorrow, I'll get up and make the broccoli salad. We're having a cookout. 

The town's fireworks are Sunday night. 

The parade is Monday morning. My daughter and grandson are marching. I've never been much for parades, but one of our local Republican big wigs is in a bit of hot water. He generally strolls along in the parade, waving grandly as a person in a elephant costume dances around him. If he does march, I hope there is a clown with baggy pants decorated with big flames dancing around him this year. Life would be much more exciting if a liar's pants actually did catch fire.

Happy belated Canada Day for all you folks up north. Happy 4th of July to those who are celebrating with me. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Life in the Fast Lane

 We had a rare day to ourselves, and so...we hopped in a car and headed north, to the Seneca nation. 

They have the best fireworks, so we bought some fountains and sparklers, and spinners, and bottle rockets.  They had huge fireworks that cost anywhere from $33. to well over $100. We don't need those...just the small ones that will delight an 11 year old. 

We roamed through the massive Salamanca Antiques Mall. We bought nothing, but it is always fun to look. Much to my surprise, we walked out well over two hours later. Time flies when you're gawking. 

We stopped for gas on the reservation on the way home. The lines were long. We paid $4.52 a gallon compared to $4.89 in town. We filled the tank, of course, and Tim filled up the little can he uses to mix 2 cycle gas, and the five gallon can that he uses to fill the tractor. 6 gallons of gas in the trunk. 7 packages of fireworks in the back seat. (What could possibly go wrong?)

(Answer: Many things could have gone wrong. Nothing did.)

We drove past our first home together on the way home, and we talked about what an amazing trip it has been from all those years ago. We're lucky. 

Music to our Ears.

 Well, the concert was good fun. It was not nearly as loud as the last event we went to, which was a bit of a relief to my poor ears. Tim en...